Monday, January 14, 2013
The obnoxious in search of the obnoxious ...
The most cheerful line in the current heatwave came from Birdsville, with the news that the trees were chasing the dogs (and if you don't get the punchline, you've clearly never been in the bush).
There's a lot to be said for rural humour, and there's even more to be said in its favour after you've bumbled and stumbled your way through a Paul Sheehan column, in this particular case the dire Racial hatred bill offers open slather to obnoxious.
Whenever Sheehan goes into his Chicken Little generally grumpy mode, who hasn't felt like giving him a good shaking, and shouted at him, for gawd's sake, get a grip and get a sense of humour.
Instead what we get is quivering righteous indignation and moral outrage ... at the suffering of Sheehan and Alan Jones ...
It is based on the notion that somehow a new bill proposed by Bazza O'Farrell will offer an open slather to the obnoxious, but that somehow Sheehan and Jones aren't obnoxious.
It builds to a punchline which should read:
It should also alarm the parliamentary inquiry but it never seems to occur to the members of the fourth estate - members of the commentariat, shock jocks, slanted, biased news reporters, editors, and lawyers that work on their behalf telling them just how far they can go, and maybe a bit further - that the extension of media power via intrusion, megaphone assault, braying attacks, scurrilous fear-mongering, and yellow gutter press activity - has been cumulatively unceasing for more than a century to the point of social, legal and moral sclerosis
Instead, here's what you get from Sheehan:
It should also alarm the parliamentary inquiry but it never seems to occur to the members of the political class - politicians, staffers, lobbyists, bureaucrats and lawyers - that the extension of the government power via micro-management, regulation and compulsion has been cumulatively unceasing for more than a century to the point of social, legal and moral sclerosis.
In short, it would have been a lot better if Sheehan had attempted to mount an argument against Bazza's foray into anti-vilification laws if it hadn't been so nakedly and blatantly put in terms of self-interest - first in relation to Sheehan's own work about the evils of vermin Islamics, and then even more ineptly in terms of Alan Jones' classic example of radio shock jock hate and fear mongering.
The pond is always willing to balance the need for abuse - as in the right to say Islam is as silly as any other religion - against the notion that you should be able to call all Muslims vermin. And to ensure such subtle distinctions don't get overly bureaucratic or legally expensive, since expensive justice is justice denied. And if Sheehan had kept to sensible arguments, he might have won, but instead he takes on an impossible brief.
Which brings us to Paul Sheehan defending Alan Jones in the matter of the Cronulla riots.
Sheehan's defence of Jones turns on two points. One is that he was right about the Islamics and the Muslims and the Lebanese. Put in context, he was right to denounce Muslims as vermin and mongrels who rape and pillage:
In the week before the Cronulla riot, Jones described the young Muslim men who for years had been sexually harassing women on the beach as ''vermin'' and ''mongrels'' who ''rape and pillage''. That was the context of his comments, a context which dropped away entirely as a prosecution for hate speech by the Administrative Decisions Tribunal dragged on for seven years.
Sheehan forgets of course that the actual context is easy to remember. All you have to do is read up on reports in the Fairfax media, in which it's recorded that Jones actively encouraged the 'event', reading on air a note that said;
Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get town to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day ...
Wog bashing day! Why that evokes fond memories of the pervasive ethnic hatred of Tamworth High School way back when.
There's a lot more to be discovered about Jones' contemptible behaviour in Alan Jones: I'm the person that's led this charge, and what a demonstration of self-inflated, aggrandising, out of control shit-stirring media behaviour it was.
It was like pouring petrol on the situation and setting it alight.
Sheehan makes no mention of this sort of blather:
When John called on Tuesday to bluntly recommend vigilante action — "If the police can't do the job, the next tier is us" — Jones did not dissent. "Yeh. Good on you, John." And when he then offered a maxim his father had picked up during the war — "Shoot one, the rest will run" — the broadcaster roared with laughter. "No, you don't play Queensberry's rules. Good on you, John."
It was horrible stuff, larded with self-congratulation. And pity poor Berta — "not of a Middle Eastern family" — who tried to argue there were two sides to this story. When she reported hearing "really derogatory remarks" aimed at Middle Eastern people on Cronulla beach, Jones cut her off: "Let's not get too carried away, Berta. We don't have Anglo-Saxon kids out there raping women in western Sydney."
You don't find any of this on view in Sheehan as he talks about context.
Nor about incitements to violence, mixed with a priceless pitch for Peter's of Kensington:
AJ: John has a good answer, he says that it seems that the police and the council are impotent here. All rhetoric, no action. My suggestion is to invite one of the biker gangs to be present in numbers at Cronulla railway station when these Lebanese thugs arrive, it would be worth the price of admission to watch these cowards scurry back onto the train for the return trip to their lairs...Australians old and new shouldn’t have to put up with this scum.
Peter's of Kensington's range of gift hampers are designed to hold useful goodies –oh there’s a stack of them aren’t there? (Front page - Jones and Cronulla)
It was hate bashing of "men of middle eastern appearance" on a grand scale, fear mongering at its worst, and naturally Jones had a defender:
When the Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled Jones broadcast material in the days before the Cronulla riots ''likely to encourage violence or brutality'', the prime minister, John Howard, leapt to the defence: ''I don't think he's a person who encourages prejudice in the Australian community, not for one moment, but he is a person who articulates what a lot of people think.'' (Fight over inflammatory talkback Alan Jones Cronulla riots).
These days, not too many people would line up alongside Howard and Jones. Except someone like Sheehan, or perhaps Miranda the Devine.
And so it came to pass that the NSW Administrative Appeals Tribunal - rather amazingly, given its feeble ways - came to a judgement:
The tribunal was to accept that Jones's target became all male Lebanese Muslims. Into the mix the broadcaster brought "car hoons" racing through The Rocks and louts seen on television sniggering at Anzac Day. He declared that the nation's security was in peril.
"If ever there was a clear example that Lebanese males in their vast numbers not only hate our country but our heritage, this was it," Jones raged. "They've got no connection to us. They simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that's taken them in. No one who's written to me could believe what they saw. Without exception, you asked what did we do as a nation to have this vermin infect us like this. And what about the sacrifices of our war dead, made for this country to make it what it is today, and to have these mongrels laugh at them on national television?''
The tribunal called this ''reckless hyperbole calculated to agitate and excite his audience''. It condemned Jones's broadcasting technique in a single cool sentence: ''Rather than dispassionately analysing the evidence and commenting on it, Mr Jones appears to have been induced or stimulated by his own preconceptions to place highly exaggerated and distorted interpretations on the few objective facts apparently known to him.''
Listeners had supplied much of Jones's anti-Lebanese rhetoric in what the tribunal described as ''a stimulatory effect working in both directions''. They said: ''He stimulates, urges and agitates his listeners and correspondents with his emotive editorials and, unsurprisingly, often receives as feedback highly inflamed and inflammatory comment more or less echoing his provocative commentary.''
There's plenty more material, easily accessible for anyone wanting further "context" - which is to say context outside Sheehan's wilful blather about "context" which fails to provide any context. All that's needed is to google Alan Jones and the Cronulla race riots.
The other Sheehan defence of Jones is the kind you'd normally associate with petulant schoolchildren, primary and certainly kindergarten.
It runs along these lines: But miss, they were doing it too.
Why he didn't throw in But miss, they started it first must remain a mystery. And how about Miss, they're way worse than me, so why was I the one made to stand in the corner?
Yes, it's childish, kindergarten stuff, and here it is:
No mention was made in Sunday's news reports of the far more sinister and contemporaneous example of public hate speech on September 15 last year.
During a demonstration that turned violent in Sydney, some protesters carried provocative placards including one infamous message, ''Behead those who insult the Prophet''. Many wore headbands with Arabic script exhorting jihad. Among the chants was, ''Our dead are in paradise, your dead are in hell''.
There is of course no need to mention one example of public hate speech as a defence against another example of hate speech. One example in no way justifies or excuses another example of hate speech.
Jones' hate speech (along with Sheehan's resort to spiteful hate speech) shouldn't be conflated with "miss they're doing it too", or "miss they're doing it worse".
As it happens, the media had a field day with that particularly stupid protest, and if you want to refresh your memory of a day when eight people were arrested and six police injured, you can again simply revert to Police gas Sydney protestors (forced video at end of link)
The result - which began the next day - was a strategic retreat, because the bald provocative nature of the protest was blatantly obvious, and produced an immediate reaction - as you can read in Islamic groups condemn violent Sydney protest.
That's what usually happens when goons and thugs step out on parade - more conservative and moderate elements step up to condemn them:
"The individuals responsible for the violent outburst run completely contrary to Islamic tradition, and the rest of the community is equally as outraged and we sincerely hope this doesn't further damage relationships between the Australian Muslim community and the wider Australian community."
Ms Sukkarieh says the protest will have ramifications for the wider Muslim community.
"Each time individuals in the community engage in violent behaviour or criminal behaviour, the rest of the community is dragged through the mud and essentially put on trial," she said.
And so on and so forth. Just in case you're interested in a bit of context.
But what happens when Jones behaves in an outrageous way?
Is there an apology, an explanation by Sheehan that his behaviour runs completely contrary to responsible traditions of journalism or radio entertainment, and that the rest of the media community is equally outraged and so they sincerely hope this doesn't further damage relationships between the failing, flailing media community, in desperate need of a paying public, and the wider Australian community ....
In your dreams.
That's the bigger context. Instead of condemning Jones for what he was involved in - a member of the media encouraging members of the community to make a violent demonstration - Sheehan wants to absolve him on the basis that others do it too. There are vermin out there in the wild, and let's focus only on Islamic vermin.
It's pitiful and contemptible, and all the more shameless in that Sheehan starts off with a dictionary definition of vermin as some kind of defence of the use of the word.
On that basis, the pond has no trouble referring to the cockroaches of the press. Everywhere, all over the place, and no matter how much you try to spray them, they keep scuttling about.
We keed, we keed. You see, the notion that Sheehan should reserve unto himself the righteous use of the word "vermin" is the deep seated problem.
He doesn't even begin to understand himself, or the neuroses and hatreds that drive him. He is a menace, and in every way, a truly undesirable menace when he attempts to defend the behaviour of Alan Jones in the run up to the Cronulla riots.
It doesn't help anyone to go around labelling an entire section of society "vermin" on the basis of the actions of a few members of that section.
Heck, it probably doesn't help anyone if the pond goes around labelling the media as "a nest of cockroaches" on the basis of the thoughts and deeds of a few miscreant cockroaches.
Yes yes, the recent Sydney weather has seen a plague of large cockies and they have weighed heavily on the mind of the pond, especially the one that dropped out of the air and landed on the keyboard.
Above all, it doesn't help if the open slather that's provided to the obnoxious by way of a regular newspaper column leads to pitiful cries about the open slather provided to other obnoxious people ...
Why, that sounds a bit like trees chasing dogs.
There are so many ironies at work here that the pond has decided to pronounce this meta-irony Monday and to propose dancing in the streets. If you meet some like-minded vermin, do the vermin dance, and spread a little hippie joy.
Anything, everything, rather than read Paul Sheehan ...
(Below: xkcd on meta irony)
Posted by dorothy parker at 1/14/2013 08:42:00 AM